In the wee hours of the night on July 2, not too long after he stepped off a cross-country flight from the Under Armour Undeniable Camp in California, O’Connell senior Melo Trimble fired a text to one of his AAU basketball coaches.
“I need to put up a lot of shots,” the message read, to which DC Assault Coach Eric Moses responded, “You didn’t shoot well at camp?”
In reality, just the opposite was true. Several analysts had lauded Trimble as the best spot-up shooter among the handful of highly touted players, further justifying his hold on the No. 45 spot in the ESPN class of 2014 rankings.
“No, I just want to get back in the gym,” the Maryland commit typed back, a hunger and near-paranoia erasing any lingering feelings of jet lag.
By Friday morning, after reluctantly agreeing to rest on the July 4th holiday, Trimble got his wish, joining National Christian guard Jon Davis in a grueling 90-minute workout at North Point under the watch of trainer Christian “Fat Cat” Cole.
“When I go to camps, they always talk about people working to be where I’m at right now,” said Trimble, who shined at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville last month. “That definitely motivates me to get in the gym because there’s always somebody who wants to go at me just to test me and see if I’m really what they say I am. I don’t want to let nobody down and let the other person think he’s on my level when he’s not.”
When it comes to shooting, few can match Trimble’s feathery stroke. The All-Met sharpshooter averaged 20.8 points in leading O’Connell to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title and top spot in the final Post rankings with a 30-7 record.
But to definitively separate himself, to truly mold himself into the point guard that Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon expects him to be come 2014, Trimble works daily to avoid the one-dimensional label of “shooter.”
“When I was 13, all I could do was shoot,” Trimble said. “Some people say as long as you can shoot, you’ll be fine, but I want to be more than that. I want to dribble, get to the basket, make plays and do it all at the next level.”
On this day, that development starts with Trimble simultaneously dribbling two basketballs from the baseline to the free-throw line and back 10 times. Next, after Cole sets up two chairs along the sideline, he instructs Trimble to approach each defensive prop before executing an assortment of quick dribble moves and accelerating down the floor.
Twenty-five minutes into the session, Trimble puts up his first shot, a jumper in the right corner after weaving through two chairs and curling around a third. By the time the ball swishes through the net, Trimble is at the elbow, rising for another shot that rattles in the basket.
“Don’t ever miss three shots in a row,” Cole warns Trimble and Davis. “You shouldn’t ever do that.”
Trimble heeds Cole’s words, only once missing consecutive attempts.
For brief moments, he bends over and tugs on his shorts, sweat beads dripping past socks adorning the Maryland flag and onto his black, yellow and red shoes. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder makes no secret of his commitment to the Terrapins, a pledge he announced on December 13. On that day, Trimble’s workouts became more focused on dribbling and ball screens while his time in the weight room decreased significantly. Already possessing the ability to overpower the opposition, Trimble hopes to improve his quickness and moves to create space between him and his defender.
“Turgeon and his assistants are going to be opening the gym a lot for Melo; that kid loves the gym,” Moses said with a chuckle on the sideline. “When Melo’s in the gym, I’ve never seen a look on his face that he doesn’t want to work.”
“A lot of people use the word ‘gym rat’ loosely,” said Cole, who’s trained the likes of NBA guards Nolan Smith and Norris Cole. “But I’ve only run across a few gym rats and Melo is one of them because he always wants to improve.”
Following a short Gatorade break, the focus shifts back to Trimble’s handle. With Davis standing several feet in front of him, Trimble dribbles twice behind his back before pushing a pass to Davis with one hand and gathering a pass from Davis in the other, all while slowly advancing through a lane of cones. Only perfection is allowed, as one mistake promptly sends Trimble back to the start line.
The same standard translates to the next shooting drill. Despite burying five of six three-pointers from the corner, Trimble claps his hands in frustration over the singular misfire.
“A lot of people work out and want to have fun at the same time, but I’ve got to put all the parties and stuff to the side because I’m trying to get somewhere,” Trimble said. “I feel like that’s what separates me from other players.”
As the workout draws to a close, a wide smile envelops Trimble’s face. In the moments when he ought to be sucking wind, Trimble instead finds joy in the high percentage of three-pointers that fall through the net off dribble moves and high screens, showcasing his readiness for the summer league games and Reebok Classic Breakout elite camp that pack his schedule this week.
But don’t mistake his smile for satisfaction. Not even 30 minutes have passed from the end of his morning workout when Trimble sends a tweet to one of his friends.
“You hoopin later?”